Johnson Quits as WestWayne CEO, President

ATLANTA Jeff Johnson has left his post as chief executive officer and president of WestWayne after six years in the role, the shop said.

Johnson’s last day at the independent shop, which has offices in Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., was Aug. 17. Johnson said he is leaving to move to New York and finish a book he is writing about the psychology of aging. Johnson, 53, is a former psychologist who once taught geriatrics. He plans to return to the ad business in New York when the book is finished, he said.

“Like it or not, I probably fit better in New York,” he said.

Ben West, chairman of the shop, said Johnson’s departure was not unexpected.

“Lightning didn’t just strike out of the sky,” West said.

West said he would assume Johnson’s duties until a replacement can be found. The shop has launched a nationwide search for a new top executive. There are no plans to promote anyone internally, West said.

“We have the luxury of time,” West said. “We don’t have a gun to our head.”

Johnson had just finished assembling a new management team at the shop’s Atlanta office. His hires during the past two years have included a new chief operating officer, chief marketing officer, chief creative officer, executive creative director and director of business development.

None of those personnel is jeopardized by Johnson’s departure, West said.

“This agency isn’t about one person,” he said. “We have an energized, dynamic, experienced team throughout our organization.”

Johnson agreed. “There are some who are disappointed, but they are all grownups,” he said.

WestWayne is one of the largest independent shops in the Southeast with annual billings of $450 million. Its client list includes Publix supermarkets, Russell Athletic, Southeast Toyota Distributors, Triumph motorcycles, the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League and Marriott International.